Garden Advice

The Beginner’s Guide to Crop Rotation

Image source: Polly Ivanova Illustration

Are you a gardening enthusiast? Have you tried growing your own vegetables, but they just don’t seem to be as impressive and abundant as you’d like them to be? If this is the case, then you may want to try a new planting tactic.

What if we told you that there is a way to plant your veggies that can chase away pests, prevent diseases and make your crops grow large and luscious? We’re talking about crop rotation! This super planting method can offer numerous benefits to your garden. Doesn’t that sound just great?

Table of Contents:

So, if you:

  • Are interested in horticulture;
  • Are growing your own vegetables;
  • Want to maximise your garden’s productivity,

Then keep on reading, because this is the post for you!

What is crop rotation?

To put it short, crop rotation is the practice of growing different plants in the same spot over several seasons.

Monocultures and plants that are repeatedly grown in the same place often cause various issues. Crop rotation, on the other hand, brings multiple benefits to your garden, including improved yields, reducing diseases and pest attacks and also soil nutrient depletion prevention. It’s also a great organic gardening solution, as it reduces the need for chemical pesticides and fertilisers.

Horticulturists often combine this method with other gardening strategies, such as companion planting. This combination in particular works wonders to deter pests, prevent diseases and improve your harvest.

How does it work?

You begin the crop rotation process by organising your plants in groups, based on their families and cultivation needs. You then divide your land into several sections, depending on how many plant groups you have and plan to grow. Just keep in mind that perennials need their own separate plot, as you don’t have to replant them each year. Most planting schemes go on for three to four years, so dividing the land into three or four sections is common.

Each planting season, you sow a different set of veggies in each spot. The aim is to plant species that use up different nutrients (and varying amounts of them), as well as ones that don’t get attacked by the same pests and diseases. By doing this, you maximise the benefits of this planting method.

But what exactly are the advantages of crop rotation? Keep on reading to find out!

Crop rotation benefits

There are numerous advantages to crop rotation when done right. One of the main benefits is that by changing up the vegetables you’re growing in a particular spot, the nutrients in the soil won’t get completely used up. Some species even increase soil fertility! This means that your plants will have enough food to grow strong and abundant.

Another great advantage is that it reduces the risk of species-specific diseases and pest attacks. As we mentioned before, crop rotation in combination with companion planting tackles this exact issue head-on. There aren’t many methods better than this one to deal with it naturally.

By planting different species of plants close to each other, and by changing up their place each year, soil-borne diseases won’t affect your crops, and plant-specific pests will find it challenging to locate their host plant. But that’s not all! Crop rotation also decreases the chance of pests and diseases to develop a natural resistance to conventional control methods.

Another great benefit is how much easier it is to care for and harvest your veggies when you sort them by their cultivation needs and families. Oh, did we mention that crop rotation increases your crop yield and improves the plant’s quality, too? It’s true! The conditions created through this method are favourable to your vegetables and will help them grow bigger and tastier than ever.

And last but not least, this method helps reduce the risk of soil erosion. It also prevents weeds from taking over, as there are lots of species competing with the invasive plants for space and nutrients.

So, to summarise, here are the advantages of crop rotation:

  • Prevents soil nutrient depletion.
  • Increases soil fertility.
  • Reduces the risk of pest infestations and diseases.
  • Makes cultivation much more manageable.
  • Increases crop yield.
  • Improves plant quality.
  • Reduces the risk of soil erosion.
  • Prevents weeds from taking over.

Disadvantages of crop rotation

Crop rotation is not all that easy, however, and there are some drawbacks to consider.

If not implemented correctly, this method can cause more harm than good. Crop rotation requires a bit more knowledge and skill, as well as the right tools and materials. For example, while potatoes and tomatoes are part of the same family group, they shouldn’t be planted too close together, as they suffer from the same blight. Little details like that can make the whole process fall apart if you don’t consider them. So, make sure to do your research well beforehand.

Not all crops can be grown in the same conditions, either. So take the time to find out which plants you’ll actually be able to grow in the conditions you can provide.

Crop rotation examples

Now that you know more about what crop rotation is, let’s go over some example strategies and why they work.

You should aim to plant leafy crops after beans and peas. The reason is that beans fix the nitrogen in the soil, which the leafy greens can then use to grow more abundant. Basically, brassicas should always follow legumes.

When growing potatoes, you’ll need to put in a lot of work to prepare the soil. The improvements you make can be of help to other plant species as well. So, plant potatoes in the first year, then follow up with other plants that can benefit from the soil, such as onions.

To be on the safe side, you should avoid planting root crops in heavily fertilised soil. Doing so will promote leafy growth, and the edible parts of the plant might remain underdeveloped. You can plant brassicas there, instead.

A simple four-year crop rotation plan

And now that you understand how crop rotation works, we have prepared a four-year plan to help you start practising this method. You can devise your own system, too! Just make sure that you keep track of what you plant, where you plant it, and what improvements you make to the soil. Keeping a gardening journal will help you out a lot!

However, if you want to follow a pre-made plan, then read on!

Plant groups

For this crop rotation plan, we have divided the vegetables into five groups, based on families.

  • Bean family (Legumes) – beans, peas
  • Cabbage family (Brassicas) – cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, radishes, swedes, turnips
  • Onions (Alliums) – onions, garlic, shallots, leeks
  • Root vegetables (Umbelliferae) – carrots, celery, beetroot, parsnips, etc.
  • Potato family (Solanaceae) – potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines

You will plant each family in a different plot, except for onions and roots, which can be planted together.

How to rotate crops

Now that you have your plant groups, divide your garden space into four sections, plus an additional one where you will plant perennials. Prepare the soil in each plot based on which group you will be planting in it and the veggies’ cultivation needs.

Ready? Good! Let’s start planting!

Year 1

  • Plot 1 – Bean family
  • Plot 2 – Cabbage family
  • Plot 3 – Potato family
  • Plot 4 – Onions and root crops

Year 2

  • Plot 1 – Cabbage family
  • Plot 2 – Potato family
  • Plot 3 – Onions and root crops
  • Plot 4 – Bean family

Year 3

  • Plot 1 – Potato family
  • Plot 2 – Onions and root crops
  • Plot 3 – Bean family
  • Plot 4 – Cabbage family

Year 4

  • Plot 1 – Onions and root crops
  • Plot 2 – Bean family
  • Plot 3 – Cabbage family
  • Plot 4 – Potato family

And there we go! Your four-year crop rotation plan is all done! After the four years are up, you can start over from year one.

Do you need help planning your garden space?

If all of this seems daunting, don’t worry! You can always rely on the professionals! We, here at Fantastic Services, offer an expert planting and flowerbeds service that can cover all your sowing needs. From planting your veggies to flowers, to window boxes, the gardeners we work with are sure to design a garden space you can be proud of!

They can even source the plants for you and come back to plant them every year! So, don’t hesitate to call us up, or use our simple online booking form to easily choose a time that suits you.

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  • Crop rotation is the practice of planting different plants in the same space every year.
  • Crop rotation can offer multiple benefits, including pest and disease control and reduced soil nutrient depletion.
  • The plants are most often separated in groups based on their families.
  • Crop rotation schemes usually last three or four years.

Planning out your vegetable garden is a task often done in winter, before you get to planting. But there are tonnes of other garden jobs to do! Learn more with the help of our year-round gardening calendar.


Did you find this article helpful? Have you reaped the rewards of crop rotation? Let us know down in the comments!

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